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PREP FOOTBALL: Mt. Pleasant, Clare in position to clinch conferences

Mt. Pleasant's Evan Huber carries the ball against Midland High's Bradley Belson during the Oilers' homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 27. 2013. (sun photo by LISA YANICK-JONAITIS/@lisayj_msun)

The Clare High School football team is one of two teams in the area that can clinch at least share of a conference title Friday night.

Since dropping their first two games of the season to Freeland (35-21) and Beal City (48-0), the Pioneers have rebounded with five straight wins to find themselves in the position to clinch at least a share of Jack Pine Conference title with win over visiting Roscommon (4-3, 3-2 JPC).

“We’ve been building confidence every week,” said Clare head coach Kelly Luplow. “We took our lumps early again this year, just like we did last year when we started out 0-2. I’ve been pretty pleased with how our kids have responded though. We’ve had a lot of new kids in new spots this year, but I’m pleased with how they’ve responded.”

Long the class of the JPC, the Pioneers (5-2, 5-0 JPC) have won 11 of the last 13 conference championships since the 2000 season. A win Friday would give Clare its seventh straight JPC championship, an impressive feat.

“I know that some people have the opinion that the Jack Pine Conference is not a tough league. It doesn’t matter what conference you are in. If you can do what we’ve done, I think that’s pretty impressive,” Luplow added.

Clare has won seven straight in its series with Roscommon with the Bucks last win coming in 2006, the last year the Pioneers did not win the JPC. During that stretch, Clare has outscored Roscommon by a combined 303-34 over the last seven years, including posting four shutouts over the Bucks.

“There’s a lot on the line for us this week. Roscommon is fighting for their lives. They know if they lose this week, chances are they won’t be making the playoffs,” Luplow said.

On top of clinching another JPC championship Friday night, Clare can punch its ticket into the state playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.

Oilers look to clinch SVL North

After an uncharacteristic season in 2012, Mt. Pleasant has quickly solidified itself once again as one of the best Division 3 programs in the state.

Since dropping their season opener to DeWitt (28-16), the Oilers (6-1, 5-0 SVL) have rolled through conference play.

Mt. Pleasant, which checked in at No. 5 in the most recent Associated Press Division 3 poll, can secure at least a share of an SVL North title Friday with a win over visiting Saginaw Arthur Hill. A win would give the Oilers their fourth conference title since 2009.

The Trojans (3-4, 1-4 SVL) are on a completely opposite path than the Oilers. After opening the season with three straight wins, they have dropped four consecutive games, with their lone conference victory being a narrow three-point win over Bay City Western.

With the exception of a forfeit loss last season, Mt. Pleasant has not lost to Saginaw Arthur Hill since the 2007 season. Including that forfeit loss, the Oilers have won six of their last eight games against the Trojans since Mt. Pleasant joined the SVL in 2005.

Last Updated: 10/17/2013 7:31:34 PM EST

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